Posts Tagged ‘Watco Companies’

New Short Line Takes over CSX Routes

September 11, 2018

The Decatur & Eastern Illinois Railroad began operations this past Sunday on former CSX tracks in western Indiana and east central Illinois.

The first train left Decatur, Illinois, en route to Paris, Illinois, using two leased locomotives, blue FURX GP38-2 5514 and WAMX 4002, a former Canadian National Railway GP40-2LW.

The new railroad is owned by Watco Companies and covers 126.7 miles of the former CSX Decatur Subdivision and the Danville Secondary.

The system extends from Decatur to Montezuma, Indiana. At Chrisman, Illinois, another route runs to Terre Haute, Indiana, via Paris.

The former route is ex-Baltimore & Ohio trackage that once stretched from Indianapolis to Springfield, Illinois. The latter route was once New York Central territory.

Connections for the D&EI include CSX at Terre Haute and Hillsdale, Indiana; the Eastern Illinois Railroad at Metcalf, Illinois; Union Pacific at Tuscola, Illinois; and Canadian National and Norfolk Southern at Decatur.

The D&EI will be based in Paris where many of the its customers are located.

The herald of the new railroad features an ear of corn framed by the outlines of Illinois and Indiana.

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Watco Hopes to take Over CSX Routes in Early September

August 14, 2018

Two CSX routes in Indiana and Illinois are expected to begin operation in early September by subsidies of short-line operator Watco.

The Decatur & Eastern Illinois Railroad will take over the Decatur Subdivision in Illinois and the neighboring Danville Secondary in Indiana on or around Sept. 6, pending regulatory approval, Watco said in a filing with the Surface Transportation Board.

Watco recently landed the support of agricultural products company Archer Daniels Midland, which is one of the largest shippers in the territory.

ADM recently told the U.S. Suraface Transportation Board that it supports Watco’s big to buy 126.7 miles of track from CSX.

The sale also includes 3.6 miles of trackage rights on Canadian National (former Illinois Central) in Decatur, Illinois.

The Decatur Sub (nee Baltimore & Ohio) extends between Montezuma, Indiana, and Decatur. The Danville Secondary (nee New York Central) extends between Terre Haute, Indiana, and Olivet, Illinois, and includes the Paris Industrial Track in Paris, Illinois.

Watco projects revenue to top $5 million from the 14 customers currently served by CSX routes.

The STB filings do not disclose the sale price of the routes.

A Watco spokeswoman said the carrier plans to assign six GP38-2s to the routes. The company plans to hire four conductors, five engineers, a locomotive laborer, a track inspector, two track laborers, and two track foremen.

CSX put the routes up for sale last January.

WATCO Buying CSX Lines in Indiana, Illinois

July 9, 2018

Two CSX secondary routes in Indiana and Illinois are being acquired by Watco Companies.

The 126.7 miles of track involved in the transaction includes the Decatur and Danville Secondary subdivisions.

The routes are former Baltimore & Ohio and New York Central respectively.

Watco plans to name the property the Decatur & Eastern Illinois Railroad will be the new name for the 126.7 miles of track that Watco will acquire from CSX as the Class I railroad seeks to prune its network of lower-density, non-core routes.

The Decatur Subdivision extends from its namesake city in Illinois to Montezuma, Indiana. It once extended between Indianapolis and Springfield, Illinois.

The Danville Secondary runs from Terre Haute, Indiana, and Olivet, Illinois, and also includes the Paris Industrial Track in Paris, Illinois.

The track between Terre Haute and Paris once was part of the NYC’s Indianapolis-St. Louis mainline and hosted such crack passenger trains as the Southwestern Limited, Knickerbocker and Missourian.

The track north of Paris was a Central route that linked Northwest Indiana and Cairo, Illinois.

Watco has told the CSX union members who work on the affected lines that it will have employment opportunities in Decatur and Paris.

The Pittsburg, Kansas-based short line company is looking to hire four conductors, five engineers, a locomotive laborer, a track inspector, two track laborers and two track foremen.

CSX, which put the lines up for sale last January, expects the sale to close in early August.

Affected CSX employees who choose not to go to work for Watco, retire or resign, will be given the option of remaining with CSX.

Neither CSX or Watco disclosed the terms of the proposed sale.

Watco operates 38 short-line railroads in the United States with 5,100 miles of track. It also holds 31 industrial contract switching contracts.

More Potatoes Coming to ‘Salad Shooter’

September 14, 2017

The westbound Cold Connect train passes through Conneaut on CSX rails.

One of CSX’s most distinct trains may be adding some more business.

Dubbed by some railroad crew members and railfans as the “salad shooter,” the dedicated train of perishables from the West Coast has been seeing its business grow.

Union Pacific and the East Idaho Railroad (owned by Watco Companies) are upgrading facilities used to move Idaho potatoes to eastern markets.

The East Idaho has seen an 18 percent growth in potato shipments this year and is leasing 20 refrigerated cars that will be outfitted with special racks and rollers to help move the produce.

Officially known as Cold Connect – a name change from the Food Train – the service begins on UP in Wallaula, Washington, with refrigerated cars of produce.

The train picks up the potatoes from the East Idaho in Pocatello, Idaho. UP interchanges the train to CSX at Chicago where the cars are transported to Syracuse, New York, and Rotterdam, New York.

The planned improvements in Idaho are designed to make Cold Connect more competitive with trucking and enable the service to increase in operations to four or five trains per week.

Some cars are being interchanged to Norfolk Southern in Chicago and routed to other destinations.

NS to Have Loco at Toledo Train Day Event

May 3, 2017

The organizers of the Toledo National Train Day festival have confirmed that a Norfolk Southern locomotive will be on display on Saturday, but it is not clear yet if it will be a heritage unit, tribute unit or just a work-a-day locomotive.

What is certain is that Amtrak will not have any equipment at Toledo Central Union Terminal for the 10th edition of the event.

Amtrak last year announced it would no longer support National Train Day, but did send Phase I livery P42DC heritage locomotive No. 156 to the event along with a baggage car, Viewliner sleeper, café car and an Amfleet coach.

Watco Companies has agreed to display its Ann Arbor heritage unit at the festival.

Also present at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza, as the station is now called will be exhibits and programming that will include track car rides, operating model-train layouts, and a drawing for free Amtrak tickets aboard the Lake Shore Limited to a destination east of Toledo.

There are expected to be five model-train layouts and various vendors in the station’s former main concourse.

Operation Lifesaver will sponsor children’s rail-safety workshops and Boy Scouts who pre-register can participate in a railroading merit badge workshop.

Local food trucks and vendors will be on hand selling their wares.

The track car rides are being offered by the Ohio Valley Railcar organization.

The hours of the free event are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the station at 415 Emerald Ave. Scheduled speakers during the opening ceremony will include:

  • Peter LeCody, chairman of the board for the National Association of Railroad Passengers in Washington.
  • Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago.
  • Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio.
  • Eric Thurlow, commercial manager of the Watco/​Ann Arbor Railroad.
  • Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
  • Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi.

Following the opening ceremony there will be roundtable discussion featuring many of the speakers.

Toledo National Train Day Set for May 6

April 12, 2017

Toledo still plans to hold a National Train Day this year, although it will not apparently have the headliner external exhibits that it has had in the past.

The event will be held on May 6 at the former Central Union Terminal – now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza – between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Thus far the only announced railroad exhibit will be Ann Arbor Railroad GP38 No. 3879.

Built in 1969, the locomotive has been painted in a commemorative livery to honor the history of the Ann Arbor, which is now a Watco Companies property.

This year’s event will be the 10th National Train Day celebration in Toledo.

Past events have featured heritage and special livery locomotives of Norfolk Southern as well as an Amtrak exhibit train.

It is not clear yet if either NS or Amtrak will be participating in the event.

The event’s sponsors say on their Facebook page that as in past years the festival will feature vendors, model railroad displays, children’s train rides, a safety workshop oriented to children, food and train watching of the nearby NS Chicago Line from the Amtrak station platforms.

Watco Acquires Cincinnati River Terminal

November 11, 2016

Watco Companies will buy 20 bulk terminal operations from Kinder Morgan.

WatcoThe facilities will include the Cincinnati Bulk/Liquids terminal on the Ohio River.

In a news release Watco said that the locations it is acquiring include rail/truck terminals and deep water locations that are focused on dry and break bulk industries handling a diverse mix of commodities including fertilizer, ferro alloys, salt, coal, and various break-bulk products.

“The Watco Team is excited to continue expanding our waterways presence,” said Watco’s Senior Vice President of Network Strategy Will Patterson in a statement. “We have identified many opportunities to expand our terminal operations and rail presence with these new sites and look forward to further developing operations with our customers.”

Also included in the transaction will be the Grand Rivers terminal in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and the Owensboro Gateway Terminal in East Hawesville, Kentucky.

STB Favors Michigan Short-line Over CSX in Dispute About Trackage Rights in Grand Rapids

November 5, 2016

A Michigan short-line railroad has received approval from the Surface Transportation Board to operate on three miles of CSX track in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

STBThe STB granted a request by the Grand Elk Railroad to use the track, but left it up to a Michigan court to determine the railroad’s contractual rights before it can resume serving customers.

The decision was a rejection of a CSX bid to prohibit the Grand Elk from using the trackage rights originally granted to Norfolk Southern but which were omitted from the Grand Elk’s lease agreement with NS to operate a former Pennsylvania Railroad route from Grand Rapids to Elkhart, Indiana.

Grand Elk has been using the CSX line until it was abruptly banned last August.

Grand Elk, a Watco company, said the trackage rights over the CSX line in question were inadvertently left out of its lease agreement with NS.

“The STB gave us the green light. The decision was promising as far as it goes, but it did not rule on the assignment of rights,” said Robert A. Wimbish, Grand Elk’s attorney.

A judge in Kent County, Michigan, will determine if as a matter of state law, the assignment of trackage rights on the Grand Rapids Track from NS to Grand Elk is valid and enforceable.

KRR Coal Traffic Has Exceeded Expectations

August 26, 2016

An executive with Watco Companies said that it underestimated the demand for Appalachian coal when it launched the Kanawha River Railroad.

Kanawha River RailroadA month after the KRR began using the former West Virginia Secondary and Princeton-Deepwater District of Norfolk Southern, it has been running coal trains almost daily.

“Coal traffic is more than we anticipated — the domestic utility coal is up right now,” Kanawha River Railroad General Manager Derrick Jackson told Trains magazine.

As a result, the KRR has acquired additional locomotives and hired more employees for train and engine service.

The KRR has leased 10 NS SD60s and has its own fleet of three SD40-2s and four GP39-2s that are used to handle freight and local traffic.

In speaking with Trains, Jackson said the KRR is actively seeking to increase the local freight business.

Using trackage rights, KRR trains terminate at Watkins Yard on NS in Columbus.

KRR Now Operating in Ohio

August 23, 2016

The entire former West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern is now back in operation.

Kanawha River RailroadThe Kanawha River Railroad is now operating loaded coal trains between West Virginia and Columbus, where they are handed off to Norfolk Southern for forwarding to Sandusky.

The first of those trains operated on Monday and was the first time that most of the West Virginia Secondary had seen a train since NS mothballed it last February.

Trains magazine reported that the first unit coal train had two NS locomotives and two SD60s leased by NS to the KRR, which is a property of Watco Companies.

KRR plans to restore shipping chemicals by rail within the next few weeks.